An unusual way to power crypto mining: Animal waste

FinanceFeeds Editorial Team

Cryptocurrency mining requires huge amounts of power and for this reason, it has been dubbed as a notorious climate culprit.

When Elon Musk banned the use of Bitcoin as a method of payment for Tesla cars, he cited environmental concerns for this decision. It has been estimated that cryptocurrency mining annually consumes about as much electricity as entire Argentina. 

Finding renewable energy solutions to mine cryptocurrency has therefore been a hot topic. Last week, following El Salvador’s decision to become the first country in the world to authorise Bitcoin as legal tender, its President Nayib Bukele announced plans to build a Bitcoin mining hub that will be powered by geothermal energy from volcanoes. 

There have been different initiatives to make cryptocurrency mining more eco-friendly and one that caught the media’s attention lately was a businessman in the U.K. who runs a cryptocurrency-mining farm equipment business, which uses animal waste to produce renewable energy. 

Crypto-mining as a way to provide green energy incentives

According to Newsweek, Josh Riddet, a 30-year-old entrepreneur from Manchester has established a system of harvesting energy to mine cryptocurrency from the faecal matter of cows. Animal waste is a carbon-neutral energy source that is 100 percent green. The system involves a six-cylinder engine that turns the methane produced by decomposing cow manure into renewable energy. This process is known as anaerobic digestion. 

Riddet is selling the equipment to farmers who are able to bolster their income by running crypto mining machines than selling energy to providers. The reason for this, according to the entrepreneur, is that the financial incentives that once lured farmers to green energy solutions have now dwindled to zero. Many farmers are looking for new green power initiatives to give them new incentives as they become more digitally savvy. 

Each mining rig costs around £18,000 ($25,000)  and has an average annual profit of £30,000. Sites hold up to 40 mining computers. In addition to anaerobic digestion, his equipment utilizes solar, hydro and wind-powered generators. 

Interestingly enough, the computers that mine hundreds of different cryptocurrencies, don’t mine Bitcoin because Riddet thinks it’s not as energy efficient as other coins and not as profitable. 

How does cryptocurrency mining work?

Cryptocurrency mining happens through a system of specially constructed computers that need to have access to huge amounts of energy. By operating these systems you are rewarded, in a way, by solving cryptographic equations through the use of computers. The process involves validating data blocks and adding transaction records to a public record, also known as a ledger, or a blockchain

The effect of this process on the planet is getting worse each year. A Bank of America securities report recently showed that in the past two years the rising Bitcoin prices have led to an astronomical increase by over 40 million tons in CO2 emissions, Fortune magazine says. To give you more perspective, each individual Bitcoin transaction uses the same amount of electricity as 778,988 credit card transactions and has the same carbon footprint as processing 1,218,903 credit card transactions, the London School of Economics has found.

Potential solutions to reduce the carbon footprint

As many other industries, such as automotive and air travel, come under pressure to reduce their carbon footprint, so is cryptocurrency mining. Among the solutions proposed to solve this problem is a plan to create a “green Bitcoin”. The use of hydropower is currently seen as one of the most cost-effective energy sources for cryptocurrency mining in the near future, alongside natural gas. 

Launching cryptocurrencies that require a greener farming technology could also provide a solution. Chia, for example, has been described as an eco-friendly alternative to major cryptocurrencies.  

In Norway, billionaire Kjell Inge Rokke launched a new venture called Seetee. Seetee aims to establish mining operations that transfer stranded or intermittent electricity without stable demand locally-wind, solar, hydro power-to economic assets that can be used anywhere. 

The article contains market commentary information, it should not be regarded as investment research or investment advice. Past performance is not a reliable indicator for the future.

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